Postgraduate taught 

Ancient Cultures MSc

Rituals, Feasts and Festivals - Power, Community and Consumption in the East Mediterranean and the Near East ARCH5033

  • Academic Session: 2018-19
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores major themes and issues relating to ritual, practice and materiality in the East Mediterranean and Near East from the Neolithic to the end of the Persian empire. In particular it focuses on the relationships between rituals, feasts and festivals and the exertion of social power and the reproduction of community through archaeological, historical and iconographic evidence. Case studies will be drawn from the Aegean, Cyprus, Anatolia, the Levant and Egypt as well as the wider Near East. The course takes a cross-cultural perspective on the types, locales and material media of ritual practices from domestic cult to public festivals.


Weekly 2 hour seminars.

Requirements of Entry

Normally an upper-second class Honours degree in Archaeology or a cognate discipline (History, Anthropology, History of Art, Classics); or other appropriate qualification; or suitable practical experience

Excluded Courses



Core Courses - MLitt in Mediterranean Archaeology


1 x 1500 word essay or book review

1 x 2500 word essay

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ investigate key issues in the study of ritual, festival and feasting practices in their social context in the East Mediterranean and the Near East from the earliest settled communities to the late 1st millennium BC

■ apply a range of theoretical perspectives on ritual and its significance in different political and social settings to specific case studies

■ investigate and evaluate a range of different sources - archaeological, ethnographic, textual and iconographic

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate:

■ an understanding of ritual practices and their political and social context in the East Mediterranean and Near East from the Neolithic to the fall of the Persian empire

■ good familiarity with a variety of sources on different types of rituals in the Near East and East Mediterranean, including archaeological, textual and iconographic, their advantages and biases as well as an understanding of how these may be combined

■ an understanding of a series of different theoretical approaches to ritual

■ gained a range of different perspectives on ritual, from the experience of the individual to cross-cultural adoption of cult objects and practices

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits